Name: Jamie Staff
From: Ashford, Kent
Disciplines: Track (team sprint)
Career synopsis: Staff began his career riding BMX, but aspired to win an Olympic medal. As it was not yet an Olympic sport at that point, Staff turned to the track and qualified instantly for the GB Cycling Team, going on to win a gold in the team pursuit at the 2002 Worlds, only a year after taking up track riding.
Titles held: 1996 World Champion BMX; 2002 World Champion Team Sprint; 2004 World Champion keirin; 2005 World Champion Team Sprint
Two things you didn?t know: Staff took up BMX as a youngster after watching friends riding and is the father of two twins.
MINI INTERVIEW: JAMIE STAFF
Have you been to China before?
I have been twice now ? once for the BMX World Cup, which was last August ? so I have experienced the climate at that time of year. It was really hot, I must say. The pollution wasn?t bad at all. They do a reduction in the traffic ? odd and even number plates on alternate days. We will be indoors in the velodrome in a controlled environment, so we should be fine.
Then we went over for a track world cup around Christmas time. We went for a drive-by of the Olympic village and saw the aquatic centre and the bird?s nest stadium. It all looks really impressive. I think they are going to do a really good job. We will be in our own little world in the village. We will get transported to the arena so we really don?t get to see much. It really could be anywhere in the world.
Are your family going out to watch?
No. The word got out that it was going to be so expensive and tickets are scarce. We have got three-year old twins and my wife gets pretty nervous being there, so she is going to stay at home with the family and let me do my thing.
Have you got any tips on how to cope with the jet lag?
I am quite lucky. Most of the time I fly I am pretty good. Both times I have been to Beijing I have coped with it reasonably well. You get out there reasonably early in the day ? eight or nine in the morning ? so it is just a matter of having an hour or two nap earlier in the day and then trying to hang with it. Some of the riders are more unfortunate and have more problems getting in sync. I think a lot of it is mental as well. If you build it up and get stressed, it will have more of an effect than if you can just deal with it. We get our there 10 days before competition starts so that is plenty of time to get over it.
How do you cope with all the hanging around and waiting?
When I am at home, I have got so much activity going on with two kids that I get my rest by coming to the track! I keep myself busy ? you have so much time on your hands at a major event that you have to think ahead, whether it is computer games or work or whatever. I have a couple of little things I do on the side ? I am involved with coaching development ? and I have got into reading books more. There is plenty of stuff to do in the village. You have just got to zone out, whether its brainless or educational.
Which Olympian past or present would you most like to meet?
Linford Christie was a sporting hero of mine when I was a kid and I was fortunate enough to meet him in Athens. After our events we had a party down on the beach and we had a few drinks. I was invited into the VIP section and there was Linford and I was like ?Oh my God!? and he is so much smaller than I remember him. He was slender and slim and you just remember this huge person. He was fun. I have met quite a few and they are just human, the same as you and me.
Will you be taking a break after the games?
I am not exactly sure what I am going to be doing, to be honest ? whether I go into coaching or keep racing. Athens affected me a bit ? I didn?t touch a bike for six months after Athens, because I got disqualified, and the team sprint went tits-up, so I came home without a medal and that really affected me. I went straight back to the States with my wife, but eventually got back into it.
It is hard to think of retiring after Beijing but I am 35 now. Am I going to be able to compete aged 39 in London? That is what I ask myself. If it was somewhere else it probably wouldn?t be so appealing, but how many times do you get the Olympics on your home turf? This season I have really dug in and focused on my training, and I am probably in the best shape of my life at 35.
You have also got to look at all the young guys coming through and wonder ?am I going to be able to make the team in London?? and, at this point, I would say there is a very good chance
It will be a joint decision with my wife and family when we sit down and figure out what we are going to do.
Which other event would you most like to go and watch?
The 100m because it is so exciting and there is so much hype around the event. It is very similar to what I do. It is just you and a racetrack, against the clock. Racing in its purest form.
I really get into it. Anything that was on TV ? tennis or cricket. I will probably be watching it all. I will follow all the other British athletes that are expected to do well.